[This Commentary originally appeared in the May 3, 1990 issue of The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel.]
Not since the go-go days of the hot summer of 1987 has the city of Rochester buzzed with constructive excitement. In those hazy days of innocence and youth, we glorified the exotic developer who dared erect a high-rise hotel where once existed nothing more than a Burger King and Don’s Arcade.
Yet within that maelstrom of enthusiasm lay the seeds of greed, ego and gross mismanagement. Turner took off and Pull pulled out, leaving in their wake a 27 story eyesore of naked steel and concrete. In a phrase, unfinished business.
Almost immediately this hallow edifice became a symbol of political and economic stagnation. Even as Buffalo and Erie County celebrated their new waterfront development, Rochester and Monroe County, in one foul-up after another, could not solve the stalled blemish once called the centerpiece of a new Rochester.
Columnists lambasted government administrators. Cartoonists inked humorous slams. Reporters, whenever relating a particularly gloomy story, found the Hyatt carcass a convenient backdrop. As the tale grew stale, we began to lose confidence in our city, our county, indeed, even ourselves.
Some valiant souls, however, refused to sit still. They pushed and pressed and declined to die or to let our elected officials give up. Their efforts did not wane. Finally, after intensive behind-the-scenes work, these last few weeks have revealed a light shining at the end of this long dark tunnel.
While we don’t want to count any chickens before they hatch, we must appreciate the civic minded leadership our local leaders have shown in the Hyatt affair. Truly, the exertion they have put forth and the duty to their neighborhood which they exhibit must be an example to us all.
Published reports recognize Robert Wegman, chairman of Wegman’s Food Markets, Inc., Daniel Gill, chairman of Bausch and Lomb, Inc. and Wilmorite Inc. as the innovators and the motivators behind the unique equity arrangement being proposed. This package plans to add $10 million dollars of private funding to develop the Hyatt. This money, to be provided by at least ten local institutions, is on top of the already existing investment of the City of Rochester and the grants and loans originally anticipated by the initial developer.
Neither the Mayor’s office nor the County Executive’s office have publicly committed to offering specific additional funds. The Rochester Business Journal (April 23-29, 1990) quotes Mayor Ryan’s office “refused to say how much the city could contribute” and adds that the County Executive’s office feels “the county’s role would be to help line up financing from other sources.”
Ironically, it is these elected officials who stand to gain the most recognition should this deal come off. Clearly, though, the stimulus behind this proposition belongs squarely within the local business and educational community. These pacesetters have done something no one else has been able to do since the summer of 1987.
One cannot understate the valor of their deeds. They will, of course, but we shouldn’t. It’s funny, when businesses come together to act for the community in a selfless manner, they often let others take the credit. In all fairness, this generous group deserves the credit for filling the leadership void evidenced throughout the Hyatt fiasco. They deserve the credit for any of the sacrifices they will make. They deserve the credit for acting in the best interests of the people of our community.
Indeed, these local partners are the real heroes of the Hyatt.
[What is this and why is here? See Interested in Discovering My Time Machine? for more details.]